You Ain't Seen Nothin' Like The Mighty Dirk Kuyt

Posted by Mark_P on November 9, 2006, 06:03:16 PM

Itís putting it mildly to say that recent big money Liverpool strikers havenít exactly been a rip roaring success. 

El Hadji Diouf did everything he possibly could to turn adulation to hatred amongst Reds following his £10m signing from Lens.  Djibril Cisse was the next high profile arrival and, although unlucky with injuries, his constant moans after misplaced passes from team-mates and frustrating lack of commitment at times meant he, like Diouf never got close to challenging Ian Callaghanís record for Liverpool appearances.  Throw Fernando Morientes and Emile Heskey into the mix and itís clear why the arrival of Dirk Kuyt in August, whilst certainly welcomed, wasnít turned into a Newcastle style fawning over a player we had not yet seen.

His performances at the World Cup had many pundits doubting his ability to play in a league better than the substandard Dutch Eredivisie, even though his flawless reputation in the eyes of the Feyernoord faithful was well documented.  But if any doubts lingered in the minds of Reds they were firmly eased with a forty minute cameo against West Ham.  After a lacklustre display by Liverpool was brought to life by two quick goals to bring the score to two one, and Kuyt was brought on just after.   The Dutchman immediately took the ball and, with his first touches, had a shot from thirty yards out, just whizzing past the post of Roy Carroll.  As introductions go it was more like grabbing someone and shaking them rather than just shaking their hand.

He was intelligent and full of running all game showing two abilities that had recently seemed Liverpool strikers were destined to go without Ė actually heading the ball and non-stop running.  At the end as players acknowledged the fans at the end, Kuyt was busy applauding the Anny Road End as the rest of the players were on their way back to the dressing room.  As Kuyt was left on the pitch on his own, he clapped all the Centenary Stand before standing, alone, clenching his fists and enthusiastically clapping the Kop as the Kop gave their approval of their new striker.  In an age were we are constantly moaning about players who couldnít care less about the audience they play for, it was a breath of fresh air to see that it really did mean something to Kuyt.  In fact, there are a few regulars around me who usually get off with five minutes left mysteriously stay until all players have left the pitch this season!

His finishing against Reading amongst others show that he will more or less certainly hit the twenty goals a season mark, something weíve badly missed since Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler were in their pomp.  Itís not just his instincts a natural finisher that will make him a huge asset in coming seasons, he can shoot from distance and can head the ball when in the area, something Messrs Bellamy and Crouch struggle with.  Thereís no use employing Pennant or Gonzalez to hit the touchline and cross the ball if the striker on the end lets the ball bounce off his head rather than actually putting a bit of force into his header.

Whilst Cisse, Diouf and Morientes were all welcomed on their arrival and heralded as the answer to striking problems, itís hard to see Kuyt going a similar way and coming nowhere near to living up to his billing.  Whether Kuyt has a bad game or an excellent one, you get the impression that he will not stop going and harassing defenders in possession, something Cisse and Diouf struggled with.  Morientes, for all his effort, just never got to grips with the pace and physical nature of the Premiership, something Kuyt already seems to have adjusted to and seems to relish, never moaning about hard but fair challenges and putting a fair few in himself. 

Kuyt has already built up an instant rapport with the fans, as seen last night at Birmingham where there were at least three different songs that got going for him, and his arrival in replace of Fowler was greeted as loudly and enthusiastically as if it were Fowler himself coming on.  Effort in games is a huge thing to football fans, as we have seen with the surprising hero status of people like Biscan and Meijer recently for us, whilst other far more talented players like Ince and Heskey havenít made as big an impression through sometimes not showing real effort. 

A few years ago as Djibril Cisse went through his usual repertoire of animated gestures after a slightly misplaced pass, someone commented that if we could have a player that had Cisseís ability and Erik Meijerís heart and passion weíd have a hell of a player. 

In Dirk Kuyt, we might have actually found as close a copy as we'll ever get of that combination.

© Mark P 2006

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